As I write this e-mail it marks the seventh week I have been in Afghanistan, and I wanted to write a message to talk about my adventures thus far, I also want to thank my mother lodge Army #1105 for the nice letter on my second year as a Master Mason. While the majority of my work and operations are classified, there are two events that took place in which aren’t classified. First were the Civilian Casualties in Farah Province, Afghanistan. I was part of the investigation team that went out to determine what happened, it was a difficult investigation because Bala Boluk is for the most part owned by the Taliban, and was somewhat dangerous. While I was there I quietly celebrated my 33rd birthday with a bowl of rice and a BECK’s N/A that someone found (I was hesitant to drink it, but figured it would be insulting not to). Was stuck there for longer than I wanted due to no flying/no convoy’s in and out of Farah. I returned back to Kabul during lots of briefings, conferences, etc. I am getting ready to go out again, I have had two trips that misfired, but am confident that enough people are back from leave that I can start certain operations again.
An additional duty I have is to interact with the students of Kabul University, once a week on Saturday’s I meet with them to discuss their concerns regarding the International Security Assistance Force. I honestly dreaded the meetings at first, as I really didn’t come here to be a punching bag of sorts, but soon learned to realize the benefit of interacting with these students. While a lot of times we go out to ascertain how the population feels about certain subjects (IED, Propaganda, ETC) this was the time for the students to bring their concerns to us, we take notes and send them forward to the 30+ Generals in the Kabul area. The students here are very passionate about their country; they have serious issues to deal with versus the college student in America. Here they get a degree, and they can’t find work within the country, and all they want to do is help rebuild Afghanistan, they usually end up going to Iran or Pakistan getting a job and sending money home, while they are the upper middle class of the country, they still lose to tribal dynamics and racial tensions. I feel bad for some of them that are idealist that want to change Afghanistan, others want to get their education and get the hell out of dodge. This country is broken in so many ways, that I can’t begin to describe the effort it has taken for them to even get this far, yet we (coalition forces) and Americans can’t believe they don’t have a thriving society overnight.
When I talk to the college students, I see sparks of Freemasonry in them, I hear them discuss education, enlightment and equality among men, and it makes me smile. The Pashtun’s (the dominate tribe in Afghanistan) believe that they escended from the tribes of Israel, they don’t have the emphasis on Islam that we are led to believe. They believe they are a Pashtun first, an Afghan second and a Muslim third. The Taliban forced this bizarre cross of Pashtun ethics with radical Islamic law in attempts to appeal to the masses, but it really didn’t stick. Still, I can see lodges one day being apart of Afghanistan, Pashtumwali consists of ualifications such as self authority, equality, assembly, respect for all people, honor, and protection. I believe that Freemasonry would be something that at some point would be very popular among the men of Afghanistan. There are other aspects, which get magnified, including tribal rivalries,pride and call for action which dominates the west impression of the people of Afghanistan.
Well, I have rambled enough, and I need to go back to work. I know that elections are coming up, and I am sorry that I won't be able to be apart of a line up this next Masonic year, but I wish the incoming Worshipful Masters and their officers good fortune and prosperity.
Hope all is well with you.